An Owl’s Unlikely Story of Love

By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter

When the Nature of Wildworks wildlife center in neighboring Topanga acquired a male barn owl, their intent was to set him up with a female owl they had housed for 15 years.

When Dancer, the female owl, was introduced to Singer, it was clear they had no interest in each other.

“When we attempted an introduction Dancer let us know immediately that she was not interested in a new roommate and that was that,” said Mollie Hogan, executive director of the Wildworks Wildlife Center.

Both being imprinted owls, or owls that had been overhandled and closely associated with humans that puts them at risk in the wild, Hogan thought the two would hit it off.

But with such a stark refusal, the owls were housed in separate enclosures, often calling out to each other from a distance.

“This spring I’d been hearing them call and then right on schedule Dancer laid a clutch of eggs, just like she has every year, and although they aren’t fertile she doesn’t seem to mind being a good pretend mommy,” Hogan said.

Then, one morning, Hogan and fellow wildlife caretaker Maegan, discovered two mottled feathered female barn owls inside of Singers cage, leaving the two scratching their heads on how they got in.

“There is a window in the enclosure with thin slats as the only choice but it still seemed impossible for something the size of a barn owl to fit through.  Singer had never tried to leave,” Hogan.

The barn owls weigh one-half of a pound and are covered with soft thick feathers that make them look bigger than they are, Hogan said, “So somehow they squeezed their feather-covered skeletons through in the name of love.”

One of the two mystery females departed shortly after, leaving the “chosen” mate, who they named Sonata, behind. Hogan said she thought about trying to release her into the wild, but figured she could leave just as easily as she entered at any time, but the love birds had something else in mind, as Sonata has since given birth to four little chicks.

They have appropriately been named Rock, Roll, Rhythm and Blues.

“Our plan for their future is to build a soft release nest box adjacent to the enclosure so when the time is right mom and her juvenile kids can head back out into the wilds of Topanga. In the meantime we’ll just enjoy observing,” Hogan said.